Bull Redfish Run
Story & Photos By Captain Galen Pruett
Redfish, often called Reds, Bull Reds or Red Drum, are making their way into our coast. These fish are found inshore until they reach about three years of age. Once they have reached this stage, they drift near shore to join the rest of their population.
The fall season for these fish starts in August and lasts through November, which is when they move towards the beaches for spawning. Sexual maturity for these fish typically happens between the third and fourth year of its life.
The males attract the females by pulsating a muscle in their swim bladder creating a drum like noise, hence the name Red Drum. The stormy fall weather is normally when the adult males move in towards the beaches to begin their spawning. This time is known as the Bull Redfish Run.
On the other hand, despite its name, these fish aren’t the bright red you would perceive. They actually range from a reddish bronze to a coppery or nearly silver color and will have a distinctive black spot near its tail base.
Sometimes you will find more than one spot on these fish, but rarely will you find one without any spots. This spot is actually thought to be a deception ploy where predators go for the tail instead of the fish’s head allowing the red fish to escape.
These bottom feeders typically eat small crabs, shrimp and worms at a young age. As they mature, their diet switches to larger crabs, shrimp and smaller fish. Because of this, you will usually find red fish around their prey in shallow waters near structures and grassy cover.
The tides also affect how and when these fish eat. Incoming tides can bring in bait fish, shrimp and crabs which attract the Redfish to these areas.
The outgoing tide forces the fish to wait and feed on whatever is carried back out. Channels, jetties and deeper areas are good spots to find Redfish during an outgoing tide.
While there are several man-made lures, such as spoons or jigs, that you can use to catch these big Redfish, the best way to hook them is with natural bait. Shad, mullet, shrimp, whiting, sandtrout and crabs are amongst some of the best baits to use for these fish. You will want to use a heavy enough sinker to keep the bait at the bottom. A simple ‘fish-finder’ rig or Carolina style rig works great.
If you are fishing off the surf or from a pier or jetty, you will want to use a rod that is able to handle heavy enough tackle to cast your baits.
Your reel should have a good drag system and have several hundred yards of line capacity. Lighter tackle is suitable for smaller rat reds and ‘slot’ reds. If fishing from a boat, target the jetties and passes where there is good tidal movement.
Captain Galen Pruett has been fishing off the Texas Gulf Coast for over 25 years. To book a fishing trip with him, call (409) 457-2339 or visit his Website at www.cowboybootsandbathingsuits.com for more information.